Journalists demand Haaretz reporter Uri Blau not be prosecuted
Around 200 Israeli journalists have already signed the Hebrew version of the following petition – Calling Israel’s Attorney General not to prosecute Ha’aretz investigative reporter Uri Blau for holding classified documents. To read more about the subject in English, read Noam Sheizaf’s post in +972 Magazine.
We have added an English version for foreign journalists (translated by Dimi Reider. To add your name to the petition, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the media outlet you work with.
Dear Mr. Weinstein,
We – journalists and commentators from around the globe, fearing for the professional freedom of our Israeli colleagues – call upon you to refrain from prosecuting Haaretz journalist Uri Blau for unlicensed possession of classified materials. Some of us have our reservations regarding the conduct of Mr. Blau and Haaretz in the affair. But all of us are concerned with the ramifications a decision to prosecute Mr Blau would have for the vitally important work of the Israeli media.
On March 23, the Israeli prosecution service announced it intends to charge Mr Blau with «retaining secret information by an unauthorized person (without intention to harm the security of the state)», pending a hearing before the Attorney General. Trying a journalist for possession of classified secret documents would gravely infringe upon the freedom of the Israeli press. Such a move would immediately constrain our Israeli colleagues’ freedom of action, and their ability to expose corruption and other wrongs afflicting their society.
Putting Mr. Blau on trial would set a precedent that would damage investigative journalism, the very essence of free media, beyond repair. It is impossible to expose corruption without using documents – including classified documents – to build up the factual infrastructure for the report. In this specific case, we should stress that the report based on the documents in questions was submitted to and confirmed for publication by the Israeli military censorship, We call upon you not to prosecute Mr. Blau, and to make do with the fact that Mr Blau had already returned all the classified documents in his possession to the state, as per an earlier agreement between Haaretz and the Israeli security services.
Prosecuting a reporter in such circumstances, for the first time in Israeli history, is a careless step down a slippery slope, at the bottom of which lies an end to the ability of Israeli journalists and media to fulfill their task as the guardians of democracy.
With great concern,
- Alexandra David, freelancer
- Amalia Oganjanyan, Freelance Journalist, Georgia
- Ben Hartman, Reporter, The Jerusalem Post
- Bryan Atinsky, Former Executive Editor at the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
- Christopher Belcher, independent film maker – Alchymedia Production Company, Washington, DC
- Daniele Protti, direttore editoriale L’Europeo, Rcs Media Group
- Daphna Baram, GRNlive, London
- David Halevy, former correspondent for Time Magazine
- Dusan Cavic, RTV B92, Serbia
- Dusan Saponja, Radio and TV B92, Serbia
- Ed Harriman, Freelance Producer/Director, London
- Hanne Foighel, Politiken & DR Danish Broadcasting (Radio)
- Hugues Peyret, France
- George Hale, Editor — English Desk, Maan Network
- Igor Ribeiro – Editor-in-chief, Portal IMPRENSA
Jean-François Julliard,Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
- Joe Yerardi, News21
- Joel Dyer, USA Journalist
- Klaus Junginger – Assistant Editor, Portal IMPRENSA
- Lee Marzel, news producer, London
- Maria Morina, freelance photographer
- Marie-Armelle Beaulieu, freelance journalist
- Marta Koblańska
- Mitchell Plitnick, Columnist at Souciant Magazine, blogger and freelance journalist
- Mohamed El Dahshan, freelancer, Cairo
- Montserrat Arbós. freelance, Barcelona
- Olga Kravets, freelance photojournalist, London, UK
- Ramita Navai, freelance journalist
- Robin Warren, Radio Producer, Resonance 104.4FM, London
- Sandra Jordan, freelance journalist
- Sergey Ponomarev, Photojournalist, The Associated Press
- Shraga Elam, investigative journalist, Zurich
Soazig Dollet, Head of Middle east and North Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders
- Terry Couchman, Your Choice Information Resource
- Tracy McVeigh, Chief Reporter, The Observer
- Yuriy Bagrov, Freelance Journalist, New York, US
- Zhavoronkov Pavel, editor-in-chief, Dom&Interior, Russia